The Disadvantages of Faire

disadvantages of faire

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been exploring the potential pros and cons of Faire (formerly Indigo Fair) here on the Lucky Break blog. Today I’m sharing some of the disadvantages as part of an ongoing blog series about emerging wholesale marketplaces. While there’s certainly a lot to love about working with this wholesale platform for artisans, there are notable disadvantages of Faire, too. I shared a few of those disadvantages in a previous blog, and I’m back with a additional thoughts to help you determine if Faire is the right opportunity for your brand.

 

The Disadvantages of Faire

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I’m pleased to share that Max Rhodes, Faire’s CEO, graciously provided answers to a tidy list of queries I sent his way. In the final two blogs of this series, I’ll share his responses, my final thoughts, and the results of the Lucky Break community survey.

 

FAIRE FAVORS BUYERS ABOVE BRANDS

There’s a general feeling among many makers and product designers that retailers are getting the better deal when it comes to Faire. They enjoy generous ordering incentives, including free shipping, free returns on first orders from any brand, and $200 cash to spend when signing up through a brand’s Faire link.

 

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However, artisans often believe that they’re getting the shorter end of the stick. We’re enjoying an increase in exposure, but we’re also paying a princely sum (up to 28% of the order) for the privilege of being seen. Thankfully, we’re not saddled with the burden of product returns, though passing the baton to Faire on that front creates separate issues that are worth exploring.

 

SLUGGISH CUSTOMER SERVICE

I frequently hear criticism about slow responses from the Faire team, especially as it pertains to reviewing applications for new makers. Despite those rumbles of frustration, artisan satisfaction with Faire’s customer support team appears to increase exponentially once we gain acceptance onto the platform.

 

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What makers, designers and retail buyers love about Faire

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As part of my ongoing blog series about emerging wholesale marketplaces, I’m highlighting the benefits of Faire (formerly Indigo Fair). And there’s certainly a lot to love about working with this wholesale platform for artisans, from the perspectives of both a maker and a retailer. Faire has ambitiously harnessed technology to create advantages for all stakeholders in the world of wholesale, and I’m excited to dive in and share them with you.

 

WHAT ARTISANS LOVE ABOUT FAIRE

 

Product designers who set up shop on Faire praise the passive nature of the platform and the increased visibility among buyers. The application process is simple, the Faire team takes care of the onboarding logistics, and makers often enjoy an order within the first week. Because Faire charges no upfront fees, the marketplace involves little risk on behalf of the artisan. That’s a welcome relief to brand owners who’ve traditionally gambled thousands of dollars brands to exhibit at a single trade show.

 

Creative entrepreneurs often spend a sizable amount of time reaching out to stores off interest, never sure whether a specific buyer will appreciate their work or have the budget necessary to bring on new lines. Faire buyers shop at their convenience, which eliminates the guesswork for brands. If a boutique owner is on the Faire site, then they’re on the prowl for new products. Even when they aren’t present, brand owners are investing their energy into the 783 other facets of running a company that demand their daily attention.

 

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Faire has gathered eyeballs and buying power at record speed. As of early February 2019, the platform had vetted 19,271 retailers according to a post within their official Facebook community. That potential for exposure often translates to a respectable volume of orders, which helps to offset the higher-than-average commission structure. Brands currently pay as much as 28% of an opening order in fees on Faire.

 

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How to Sell on Faire

How to sell on faire

If you want to know how to sell on Faire, then you’ve come to the right place! This blog is part of an ongoing, deeply researched series about selling on Faire (formerly Indigo Fair). The first post, What is Faire?, detailed how Faire works, how much Faire charges, and what kinds of products Faire sells.

 

HOW TO SELL ON FAIRE

 

 

How to sell on Faire

 

In this installment of the series, I’m unpacking some of the nuances of the platform. Because Indigo Fair/ Faire is a rapidly evolving marketplace, it’s important to recognize that this data is accurate as of the time of publication. The Faire executive team is pioneering in spirit and ambitious in scope, so their efforts are an ever-changing experiment. It’s akin to building the runway as you fly the plane, but that’s to be expected when you’re- quite literally- trying to “reinvent wholesale.”

 

Getting started with Faire is deliciously straightforward. Whenever I speak to artisans within the Lucky Break community, the onboarding process is something that earns rave reviews. Co-founder Max Rhodes has often boasted about how easy it is to use Faire.

 

“Makers can apply to join Indigo Fair, and once accepted, they just send us their product catalogue to get their profile up and running. Most makers receive an order within a week, and they get paid as soon as they ship the goods.”

 

HOW ARE ORDERS RECEIVED THROUGH FAIRE?

 

Buyers shop through the Faire interface from a seamlessly curated selection of products that are chosen for them based on an algorithm that considers numerous factors. While only the Faire executives and the software development team fully understand the mechanics of the algorithm, we do have some clues about how the system works. The aesthetics of the shop and the frequency with which any particular brand is ordered factor into which products are displayed for any specific buyer.

 

Faire dispatches an email notification to the brand once a buyer places an order. Brand owners then log into the system to discover several options at their fingertips, including:

  • Accepting the order and selecting a ship date.
  • Editing the item availability to backorder an item.
  • Canceling the order.

 

Payment for orders is settled upon shipment. Because buyers often enjoy trade credit (commonly known as “net terms”) via Faire, brand owners can pay an additional 3% fee for immediate payment. If they choose to agree to net 30 terms to settle the invoice, then they can forego the additional 3% fee. In all instances, Faire guarantees payment even if the buyer defaults on their obligation.

 

HOW DOES SHIPPING WORK ON FAIRE?

Shopkeepers often enjoy free shipping on Faire, and I can confirm that there’s almost nothing that they cherish more than zero shipping fees. But who pays for that?

  • When you notify Faire that an order has shipped, you attach the tracking number for the parcel and notate the shipping cost. This has been the process since Faire’s launch.
  • Faire reimburses for the shipping fees alongside the settlement for the merchandise, according to the schedule you’ve selected. (Immediate payment for an additional 3% or settling the invoice in 30 days for no additional fee)
  • Faire passes the shipping charges on to the buyer unless the shopkeeper is taking advantage of a free shipping special. In that case, Faire absorbs the cost of shipping.
  • In February 2019, Faire rolled out an optional, automated process for printing shipping labels within the program.  This eliminates the need to manually input shipping costs and tracking numbers.  Swing by the Faire FAQ to read more about Faire’s new shipping program.

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How to Pack a Pallet

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More and more Lucky Break clients are packing pallets these days (hooray!). Whether they’re bound for Anthropologie, Home Goods, TJ Maxx or subscription box companies, many of us are tackling big corporate purchase orders and the mondo-sized shipments that go with them. I thought a tutorial on how to properly pack a pallet might prove helpful. If you’re ready to start working with products at a larger scale, then I hope this post takes some of the mystery out of the process!

 

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How to Pack a Pallet of Product

Step 1: You’ll use case packs and larger shipping boxes, much like you likely already do. For instance: if you’re shipping candles, we wouldn’t want to pack large boxes of 48 candles each. That would be hard to stabilize and leave the product vulnerable to damage. A better option would be to pack those candles into case packs of 6 or 8 candles each.

 

Once those smaller “case pack” boxes are packed and taped shut, you’ll then load those case packs into a larger exterior shipping box. So we might have one large shipping box that contains 8 case packs containing 6 candles each, for a total of 48 candles. A series of those boxes are prepared and individually weighed, carefully noting the weight of each.

 

Step 2: You’ll load those larger boxes onto a wooden pallet.  You can often pick these up free locally- check home stores, flooring stores, etc. Note that your boxes shouldn’t overhang the edge of the pallet… everything should fit inside the pallet’s “footprint.”

 

Step 3: Start with your heaviest boxes and layer them on the bottom. Unless your boxes are square, I recommend packing the layers “criss-cross” style. So layer one boxes all go in one direction, layer two boxes are rotated 90 degrees, layer three boxes are packed the same way as layer one, and layer four boxes are packed the same way as layer two, etc. Don’t pack much higher than you are tall!

 

Step 4: Once all the boxes are loaded, then wrap the pallet with plastic wrap. Wrap multiple layers all over the pallet, starting at the bottom and working your way up by physically walking around the stack. Be certain to wrap the actual pallet as well- if you simply wrap the cargo on top of the pallet, then it can slide off. Be careful to wrap the top half of the wooden pallet itself once it’s loaded with cargo to effectively attach the boxes to the pallet.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Affix a shipping label with the destination clearly displayed. I recommended typing this in Microsoft Word (large type!) or a similar program, printing the label on regular paper, then affixing the label to the wrapped pallet via clear shipping tape.

 

Step 6: Affix a detailed packing list in a clear shipping pouch to the exterior of the pallet, next to the shipping label. The packing list should list your contact details as the shipper, the contact details of the receiver, and then carefully note the number of boxes per pallet, along with the contents of each large shipping box.  Be certain to reference any purchase order numbers attached to this shipment.

 

Three important things to note:

  • When you arrange the pickup, you’ll need to give the trucking company the weight and dimensions of the pallet. The dimensions are easy enough to determine with a tape measure. But to get the weight, you’ll either need a jumbo-sized floor scale you can roll the pallet over (read here: $$$), or you can weigh each box as it’s added to the pallet. Simply tally them all up and add 20# for the pallet.

 

  • If you plan to move the pallet around your space, then you’ll need a pallet truck. If pallets are something you’ll be wrestling with often, then a pallet truck is a wise investment. You can sneak a peek of one in action in the video below.

 

  • If your facility doesn’t have a dock, then you’ll need to let the trucking company know when you arrange the pickup. They’ll send a liftgate truck which has a hydraulic lift on the back. That lift can lower to the ground and that truck will have a pallet truck inside. The driver will use the pallet truck to guide the pallet onto the liftgate and lift it back into the truck. Liftgates are usually an additional fee of $50-150, but there’s no way around it and no regular truck can pick up a pallet off the ground, so be sure to indicate this need when you first speak to the shipper!

 

 

 

 

What questions do you have? Drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to help! If you’ve packed a pallet, was it easier or harder than you imagined?

 

MANY THANKS to LBU alumni and Coaching Community members Unique PL8Z and Sequoia for generously sharing their videos to accompany this post.  I love watching you ladies take care of business! xo

 

#LBCWantsToKnow >> June 2018: Holiday Wholesale Outreach

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Every month, I ask my Instagram community to lend their voices to a focused business conversation so we can crowd-source meaningful discussions. I call it #LBCWantsToKnow and it’s one of my very favorite things of 2018! Though the mercury is peaking and all the wee ones are out of school at the moment, I’ve got the holidays on my mind… because the wholesale march generally begins in mid-summer.

 

When do you start planning for holiday wholesale outreach?

 

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID: 

  • canardlabs: July 1st. Our Holiday Catalog Insert is launched and sent along to our reps and rep groups! We order the Fall/Winter ingredients in May. Make the products and photograph them in early June, then release them to our peeps by July 1.

 

  • olivemyskin: August is when I start. Keeping records from prior years helps tremendously. It make order placing easier.

 

 

MY THOUGHTS: The holidays often catch makers and product designers off guard and our holiday game plan needs to kick off much earlier than many new business owners realize. Buyers for most categories start scouting for new merchandise in late July and August.  If you’re ever perplexed by when they’re on the prowl, look towards the trade shows for your product category.  Those always occur in at the start of prime buying seasons, so it’s an way way to remember when you need to turn up the heat.

Many of us experience an annual retail slump in the summer months- retail consumers (both those that shop online and those who flock to brick + mortar stores), are otherwise distracted with summer plans. They’re out of rhythm, focusing on other endeavors, and we don’t have the benefit of any major gift-giving holidays in June, July, or August.  Though it’s painful to see revenues wither in these months, that also makes this period “prime time” for holiday prep. Finish up any new product development, tee up your fall releases, polish marketing materials, and line up a concerted push for wholesale attention. Then launch those efforts in August and keep the heat on for new buyers straight through late October.

 

In my experience, December is pretty much a ghost town in wholesale, but that’s generally a blessing as most of us are swamped with retail orders. November typically sees a steady stream of orders, but they’re generally reorders from stockists who are selling out inventory or existing accounts who are a tad late to the game on holiday ordering. But August? September, and October? Prime time to get on the radar of new shops you’re itching to get into.

 

 

Will you be releasing new products for the holiday season?

 

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID: 

 

  • olivemyskin: Holiday scented candles and warm, spicy soap

 

  • woodenheartdesigns: Adding new products now based on my best selling items and revamping some things so I don’t feel so overwhelmed right before the shopping season starts. My biggest challenge is always finding work/life balance during the peak season.

 

MY THOUGHTS: “New” is the lifeblood of wholesale, and seasonal launches are essential to this market segment. But that doesn’t necessitate that you launch 87 new products or jump into an entirely new product category! Seasonal fragrances for those in the apothecary or candle space, fresh colorways or prints for textiles, a thoughtful jewelry collection of several capsule pieces…. that’s really all you need. And for those in the gift space, bundling existing products into gift sets in ready-to-go packaging is always a smart idea.

 

Ideally, those products are ready to launch in July. I recommend using that month as your benchmark, then doing some quick reverse math to map out deadlines for each step of the development process.  Whether your product development takes 3 months or 6 months, the process usually starts months ahead of when we imagine it would!

 

 

Black Friday + Cyber Monday promotions: Are they a blessing or curse to your business?

 

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID: 

 

  • lillabarnclothing: We do a small biz Saturday online event with one of a kind pieces and other unique items that aren’t usually available. Trying not to do too many discounts, but this seems to be a fun event especially for our insider group.

 

  • stellachroma: Thanks to you, we don’t do percent discounts often at all and I think business is better because of it. We may do a free shipping and gift with purchase deal this year rather than a price discount.

 

  • horsefeathersgifts: We use Black Friday to clear out any inventory we no longer want on our site. It’s always been a big hit with our customers.

 

  • lotionbarcafe: I am closed on both those days. I am an ambassador for small biz Saturday and that has been the best!

 

  • zhibathandbody: Bundles and free gift wrap is what I do most; occasionally free shipping. Deep discounts were never effective. I set up automation for Black Friday & Cyber Monday, then work up a nerve to do a live event on Small Business Saturday.

 

MY THOUGHTS: It’s terribly easy to let discounts be the death of small business.  A steady stream of percentage-or-dollars-off promotions or occasional deeeeeep discounts serve to hamstring creative brands. They move the needle away from value and center the discussion on price (which really isn’t what you want to focus on, unless you’re a discount brand). They train you customers to only shop when your products are on sale.  They undercut your wholesale partners, which jeopardizes those relationships. All the way around, they get a hard “no” from me.

 

With that said, I’m keenly aware that these are the biggest shopping days of the year and consumers are accustomed to a buffet of offers during Thanksgiving week. I recommend a few things…

 

  • Starve your customers a bit. Not literally, but figuratively. Pull back on your sales throughout the year to make your holiday promos more special.

 

  • Consider adding value rather than deducting dollars. There are are many creative ways to structure offers and incentivize ordering. Consider offering free shipping (or a lower free-shipping threshold than your usual), adding complementary gift wrap, increasing loyalty points on purchases made during a promo period if you offer a loyalty program, etc. Bonus product (buy this, get that) or deluxe samples are always welcome offers, too.  Essentially, do anything other than give people what they often get for less dollars than they usually pay for product. Ideally, you collect the same number of dollars, but those dollars stretch further.

 

  • Transition to a 2.2x wholesale pricing structure. If you create a $22 candle, then offer it for wholesale at $10, rather than the typical keystone of $11. That means that your recommended retail price (and the price your charge on your own website) is 2.2x wholesale, rather than 2x. If you pivot to this type of pricing structure, then you’ll attract wholesale partner like bees to honey and you give yourself a 10% off cushion when you run sales. So your $22 candle can sell for $20 during a sale, and you’ve still protected your stockists by not charging your own customers less than 2x your wholesale. Everyone wins! An occasional 10% off, especially when coupled with a value-added promotion is far better for a brand than a temporary 20, 30, or 40% slash in price.

 

Want to chat more about the power of smart promotions and how you can structure them? I’m offering a free business workshop via FB Live in September to chat about this very thing! Join me on Lucky Break Consulting’s Facebook page on Thursday, September 27 at 2pm Eastern/ 11am Pacific for a live conversation and some rich Q+A.

 

Also, I invite you to join me on Instagram in July I’ll be hosting a conversation about pricing and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Search the #LBCWantstToKnow hashtag to weigh in!